By Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Garas
Defense Logistics Agency
FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Students of the International Fellows Class from the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy toured the Defense Logistics Agency Headquarters Dec. 9.
The tour allowed students the opportunity to learn about DLA’s capabilities through several lectures on topics ranging from Strategic Network Optimization to alternative fuels.
“The goal is to have them exposed to a little more logistics on the high-strategic level,” said Kelly Morris, DLA chair at the Dwight D. Eisenhower School, in Washington. “In their curriculum they have some exposure to logistics, but not enough. Bringing them here gives them a view of logistics and how we support the warfighter. Not only that, but how we support other federal agencies as well.”
Students from the school include foreign military officers from more than 50 different nations. The institution is under the direction of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
After lunch students received a strategic overview brief on DLA’s capabilities. Topics ranged from inventory distribution to ways the agency is decreasing operating costs. For many, it was the first in-depth knowledge some of them received on large-scale logistical operations.
“Most of these fellows are not logisticians,” Morris said. “They might be pilots or infantrymen who are supported by logistics and have a little understanding of how that works in their country, but this is a good way to show them how we operate organizationally.”
The visit is the first part of a two-stage process that will continue in January when the group will travel to a DLA Energy site in Houston.
“With the upcoming trip to Texas we will be getting familiar with the lower-level field components of logistics,” said Col. Vitalii Zhukov of the Ukrainian armed forces. “We’re starting to see with our own eyes how the logistics works from the ground component. It’s very interesting.”
During the presentation, students were encouraged to ask questions and open a dialogue with the speakers. For some it was an opportunity to learn a wealth of knowledge and increase operational effectiveness.
“The evolution of your doctrine is of interest to us,” said Col. Geraud Laborie, a transport pilot with the French air force. “By knowing what you can do, we are better able to tailor our requests when we need your assistance to support our operations.”
Laborie noted that while he was interested to learn more about DLA’s capabilities and how the U.S. handled its logistical challenges, he stressed that one of the biggest benefits of visits like this were the ability to foster multi-national relationships between military peers for future networking opportunities.
“If you are running an operation and you need to work with another country, it helps to facilitate a first contact,” Laborie said. “Tours like this provide a good network with other nations as well as the U.S.”
The highlight of the visit included remarks from the director of logistics operations, Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dowd.
“We make sure our warfighters have everything they need,” Dowd said. “From repair parts to rations, we ensure that we can support them.”
Dowd highlighted DLA’s capabilities to the students but was also quick to mention DLA’s ongoing effort to reduce costs and become more efficient while maintaining mission capability.
He said DLA has always made supporting the troops the No. 1 priority, and in the current budget climate, making that support cost effective is more important than ever.
“Before, we made sure it got there on time and on target,” Dowd said. “Now we’re taking a look at things like cost to make sure we do it efficiently.”
Vietnamese Army Senior Col. Nguyen Hung said visits like this are important for international military officers.
“By coming here we can understand more about the culture and the inner workings of the organization,” he said.